AMERICAN HOME ASSURANCE COMPANY, petitioner, vs. TANTUCO ENTERPRISES, INC., respondent. [G.R. No. 138941.

October 8, 2001] Facts: Tantuco Enterprises, Inc. is engaged in the coconut oil milling and refining industry. It appears that respondent commenced its business operations with only one oil mill. In 1988, it started operating its second oil mill (known later as new oil mill). The two oil mills were separately covered by fire insurance policies issued by petitioner American Home Assurance Co., Philippine Branch. Official receipts indicating payment for the full amount of the premium were issued by the petitioner's agent. A fire that broke out and consumed the new oil mill. Respondent immediately notified the petitioner of the incident. The latter then sent its appraisers who inspected the burned premises and the properties destroyed. Thereafter, petitioner rejected respondent’s claim for the insurance proceeds on the ground that no policy was issued by it covering the burned oil mill stating “Our policy extend insurance coverage to your oil mill under Building No. 5, whilst the affected oil mill was under Building No. 14.” A complaint for specific performance and damages was consequently instituted by the respondent. The lower court rendered a Decision finding the petitioner liable on the insurance policy. American home appealed to the CA which was subsequently denied. MR was also denied, hence the petition.

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Issue: Held: The petition is devoid of merit. The primary reason advanced by the petitioner in resisting the claim of the respondent is that the burned oil mill is not covered by any insurance policy. According to it, the oil mill insured is specifically described in the policy by its boundaries. However, it argues that this specific boundary description clearly pertains, not to the burned oil mill, but to the other mill. What exacerbates respondent’s predicament, petitioner posits, is that it did not have the supposed wrong description or mistake corrected. Despite the fact that the policy in question was issued way back in 1988, or about three years before the fire, and despite the “Important Notice” in the policy that “Please read and examine the policy and if incorrect, return it immediately for alteration,” respondent apparently did not call petitioner’s attention with respect to the misdescription. In construing the words used descriptive of a building insured, the greatest liberality is shown by the courts in giving effect to the insurance.[11] In view of the custom of insurance agents to examine buildings before writing policies upon them, and since a mistake as to the identity and character of the building is extremely unlikely, the courts are inclined to consider that the policy of insurance covers any building which the parties manifestly intended to insure, however inaccurate the description may be.[12] Notwithstanding, therefore, the misdescription in the policy, it is beyond dispute, to our mind, that what the parties manifestly intended to insure was the new oil mill. This is obvious from the categorical statement embodied in the policy, extending its protection: Whether the oil mill gutted by fire is covered by the insurance policy.

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Indeed.) If the parties really intended to protect the first oil mill. it would be absurd to assume that respondent would protect its first oil mill for different amounts and leave uncovered its second one.”[13] (emphasis supplied. LUCENA CITY UNBLOCKED. IYAM. . situate (sic) at UNNO. ALONG NATIONAL HIGH WAY. then there is no need to specify it as new. copra cake and copra mills whilst contained in thenew oil mill building. BO.- - “On machineries and equipment with complete accessories usual to a coconut oil mill including stocks of copra.

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